Cleaning & Maintaining Natural Stone

Calcium-Based Sedimentary Stones

Travertine, Marble, Limestone, and Onyx

Seagrass limestone and Crema Marfil tumbled marble mosaics with glass decorative inserts and a Crema Marfil polished liner

Calcium-based sedimentary stones (onyxmarble, limestone, and travertine) are sensitive to acid and harsh chemicals, so you need to use non-acidic cleaners. Cleaning products with citrus or vinegar bases (such as Simple Green), or limescale-eroding cleaners like Scrubbing Bubbles and Lime-Away will severely damage your stone. Intense cleaners such as bleach can also etch and discolor these stones.


For everyday cleaning, we recommend a stone-specific cleaner such as AquaKleen. An upgrade option is AquaShield, which adds a bit of sealer with each cleaning. If your stone is polished and on a countertop, you should upgrade to Stone Clean & Shine, which adds a bit of sealer and helps preserve the polished finish with each application.

Textured Stone

Slate and Quartzite

Stacked Slate and Quartzite in various shades of cream, green, brown, and gold

The rough, layered nature of slate and quartzite with a natural cleft or splitface finish makes it difficult to wipe down. Cloth cleaning rags, paper towels, or dusting cloths can catch and tear on the various ridges and edges.


We recommend using stone-specific cleaners (such as AquaKleen or AquaShield) in conjunction with a non-abrasive scrub pad for regular cleaning. The scrub pad will loosen dirt or grime without scratching the stone or leaving fibers behind.


Quartzite is a hardier material than slate, and most are acid-resistant, allowing you to use stronger cleaners or all-natural cleaners (including a vinegar solution). Be aware that strong cleaners can decrease the life of your sealer.

Splitface Mosaics and Ledgerstone

Stacked Slate and Quartzite in various shades of cream, green, brown, and gold

We don't recommend installing a dramatically textured tile in showers or on kitchen backsplashes specifically because the texture makes it easy for residue to build up. The extremely rough texture of splitface mosaics or ledgerstone makes it difficult to wipe down and clean up. Cloth cleaning rags, paper towels, or dusting cloths can catch and tear on the various ridges and edges.


We recommend using stone-specific cleaners (such as AquaKleen or AquaShield) in conjunction with a non-abrasive scrub pad for regular cleaning. The scrub pad is less likely to leave any sort of fibers behind and can scrub your stone without scratching it. 

Unfilled Travertine

Scabos unfilled and tumbled travertine Versailles mosaic with ivory filled and honed travertine tiles and a Tuscan bronze Schluter Quadec trim

Travertine is naturally quite porous with large pits and voids. Most travertine tiles are sold with a fill for a smooth, solid surface, but some people prefer the look of natural, unfilled travertine. If you're looking for a Tuscan-style floor or a antique-looking backsplash, make sure you know the maintenance involved in unfilled travertine.


Most of the pits will be filled with grout during installation, especially with small tiles or mosaics. How flush the grout is with the surface of the tile (and, consequently, how easy the surface will be to wipe down) depends on how conservative you are when cleaning up the grout. However, if you choose to leave them unfilled (large format tiles on a floor, for example), be aware that dust or crumbs will accumulate in the pits, requiring regular vacuuming. 

Polished Stone

Polished Jerusalem Gold limestone mosaic between beige porcelain field tiles

Many people equate a polished surface with "cleanliness." While it's true that a high shine looks clean and a smooth surface is easier to wipe down, a polished stone is just as porous as an unpolished stone and still needs to be sealed.


A polished surface will show waterspots, chips, scratches, and etching more easily than a matte surface will. Keep this in mind when selecting materials for high-traffic areas.


When installed on a countertop, we suggest cleaning polished stone with Stone Clean & Shine. This product will help extend the life of the factory polish and add a bit of sealer with each use.


Granite is extremely durable, and can withstand most basic houshold cleaners. However, to extend the lifetime of your granite and protect its polished surface, we recommend a stone specific cleaner such as AquaKleen or AquaShield.


For polished countertops, we recommend Stone Clean & Shine to add a bit of shine with each cleaning. If you get scratches and mild wear in the polished surface of your stone, we recommend Brilliance polishing cream to help restore it.


As long as you use a good stone cleaner, avoid chemical damage from inappropriate cleaners, and apply a long-lasting sealer, granite will stay beautiful for a long time.

Marble, Onyx, Polished Travertines and Limestones

Carrara Marble

More delicate than granite, calcium-based stones are susceptible to acid damage and harsh chemicals. Take extra care when selecting one of these stones for a kitchen countertop (where spilled fruit juice, vinegar, or other foods can quickly etch it) or for a shower stall (many shower cleaning products are designed to dissolve limescale or hard water build up and will erode your stone). 


To restore and refresh a dull, etched, or lightly scratched calcium-based stone surface, we recommend Renue, a polish restoring cream. 


For everyday cleaning of polished stone on walls and floors, we recommend AquaShield, which refreshes the sealer with each cleaning, helping to protect the stone from future damage. 


For everyday cleaning of polished stone countertops, we recommend Stone Clean & Shine, which extends the life of the polished finish with each use.

Seal your Natural Stone, Guard against Stains

Sealer's Choice Gold sealer for marble, granite, limestone, travertine, and more

The first step to protecting your natural stone is to apply a quality sealer. A good sealer acts as a barrier on porous natural stone and helps prevent staining, and can last up to 15 years.


If you have polished stone countertops, use a water-based sealer, not a solvent-based sealer. A solvent-based sealer will dissolve the wax that is polished into the granite or marble and ruin your polished finish. A water-based sealer will not damage your stone.


While especially important in kitchens, in bathrooms, or on floors, we recommend sealing natural stone in low-traffic areas (such as fireplaces and wainscoting) as well. This will protect the stone from unforseeable situations, splatters, or spills, as well as prevent staining from grout or dirt (or ash, in the case of wood-burning stoves).


Stone that is sealed before it is grouted won't be discolored by the grouts pigments, and the sealer helps release grout haze after the grout is installed.

Preventing Stains

Red wine spilling

The best way to prevent staining is to apply a quality, penetrating stone sealer when the stone is first installed, and reapply as needed (for example, if a 15-year sealer is applied to stone on the floor in a high-traffic entryway, consider re-applying the sealer every 5-8 years. If the same sealer is applied to a fireplace facade, reapply every 15 years).


Dab up any stains or spills as quickly as possible with a clean cloth or paper towel. Do not wipe, as this will smear the mess into the stone. 

Removing Stains from Stone

Hand cleaning granite

For the best information on treating stains, we recommend this helpful page from the Marble Institute of America. 


For a quick and easy stain removal guide, check out TLC's tips for removing stains from polished marble.


One of the best stain removal methods is to use a poultice to suck the stain out of your stone. We recommend Aqua Mix's Poultice Stain Remover.

Is your stone scratched, etched, or damaged?

Scratched, scuffed Carrara Marble

Maybe you've just moved into a house with a scratched travertine floor? What do you do when your marble tabletop has acid damage? Has the shine on your granite countertops dulled over time?


For light etching and scratches on calcium-based stone (marble, travertine, limestone, onyx), AquaMix's Renue polishing cream will fill in this light damage and restore the look of the stone. We keep Renue in-stock daily.


If creams and polishes won't fix the problem, or if you have a slate or granite that can't be fixed with Renue, you may need to call in the professionals.

The Natural Stone Restorers

Jorge Perez


Premier Stone Care

Chas Anderton



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